I joined the history department at Johns Hopkins in 1972. My speciality is the history of the early modern Europe, with particular emphasis on Habsburg Spain and its overseas empire, a subject that has engaged my attention, albeit in different ways, throughout my scholarly career. I also have long-standing interests in art history, cultural history, history of cartography, urban history, etc. I also believe in integrating literature into the study of history, and this is reflected in my joint-appointment as Professor in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
My books include Students and Society in Early Modern Spain (1974), Lawsuits and Litigants in Castile, 1500-1700 (1981), Lucrecia’s Dreams: Politics and Prophecy in Sixteenth-Century Spain (1990), and Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493-1793 (2000). I have also edited and contributed to several volumes, including Spanish Cities of the Golden Age (1989), Spain, Europe, and the Atlantic World (1995), a volume of essays dedicated to my mentor, John H. Elliot, that I co-edited with Geoffrey Parker, and Spain in America: The Origins of Hispanism in the United States ( 2002). In spring 2004, the Johns Hopkins University Press will publish Inquisitorial Inquiries: The Brief Lives of Secret Jews and Other Heretics, a collection of six "inquisitorial autobiographies" that I edited and translated into English with the assistance of Dr. Abby Dyer.
My current research focuses on the writing of both chronicles and history in early modern Spain and colonial Spanish America. I have published several essays on this topic, and there are more on the way. I am also working on a monograph, tentatively entitled, The Chronicler and the Count: Law, Libel and History in the Early Modern Atlantic World, which centers on the efforts of one disgruntled count to force one of the king’s chroniclers to emend a planned history of Spain in the New World.
Over the years I have hand in the training of many graduate students in diverse areas. My policy is generally to give students the freedom to select their own area of research, although I do intervene, sometimes quite actively, in their choice of topics. Currently, I have students working on subjects related to the history of the Spanish royal court, saints and society, pearl-fishing in the Caribbean, Spanish science, as well as the Inquisition in both Spain and the Americas.